My Story with Will Wright, Community Engagement Specialist

Posted on December 16, 2014

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ELGL’s mission is to connect, communicate, and educate. One way we do that is by “telling our story.” Today we learn the story of Will Wright.

Right now, I am working on…
.going the next mile, literally. I’m on my first multi-day bicycle trip and it’s kicking my butt. Other than that, this is a time of reflection and introspection for me before I start the next big adventure.

I aspire to….work in local government. Also, to help communities work together to make the world a better place.

My top three career accomplishments are…

  • Reducing a national park’s reliance on herbicide by incorporating additional treatment methods (including torching the plants).
  • Leading my students to co-design the syllabus for our discussion-based class with me.
  • Showing up, no matter what challenge(s) the group I’m working with is currently facing.

When no one else is in the car, I…


….dance. If the road is clear (like closed-course clear), I might even incorporate the car in the dance.

My most frustrating experience in local government was….sitting through a commission meeting. The room was obviously not designed for an audience and I had support column blocking my view of half the commission. I also couldn’t see the powerpoint slides to which they kept referring. Even though I wasn’t expecting to participate, a part of me still wanted to shout “This is not how you run a public meeting!”

Here are three tips for interviewing……

  • Be curious about the other person(s). This allows for a relationship to begin forming.
  • Listen, actively. It will help with tip #1
  • Be prepared. Understanding the larger context of the interview will help with #1 and #2. If you can’t get a full grasp of the context, you’ll at least know where to start with your curiosity.

downloadIn terms of telling the local government story, I think local government……could do a better job of showing it’s human side. This exercise is a great example of what I mean by the human side. We aren’t faceless, nameless, emotionless bureaucrats, and I think a lot of people forget that we’re their neighbors and that we are, in a lot of ways, just like them. Allowing our humanity into our everyday interactions as well as in our more intentional storytelling could do a lot for building trust.

If I could start a non-profit to assist local government, I would focus on….finding interesting, intriguing, and engaging ways for government to listen, not just the periodic planning processes or for a new project, but on an on-going basis. Of course listening means not just gathering information but processing it and sharing back the understanding that information has given you — quite a complicated process when “you” are a city or county.

For the next person that you interview, I would ask….What’s one thing that can always cheer you up, no matter how bad a day it’s been?


Top of my list is probably a really good song that gets me up and dancing.

You should have asked me….why I’m drawn to this work. I’m drawn to individuals working in community. Local government is a natural fit for that aspiration as it’s the right scale (small enough where an individual can make a difference, large enough for that difference to matter), is institutionalized (lending it a degree of durability), and has the legitimacy of expectation (the leaders of our local governments are often seen as the leaders of our communities and are thus expected to lead).

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